Wow..I can not believe week two is done and I’m entering week three! Unbelievable how quickly time is flying already.
Classes have started and are already in full swing! The professors are amazing and it is definitely different from the classes at Houghton! Maybe it’s just the subject matter that I’m not used to; but nonetheless I’m enjoying. Greek class is something! Two hours is a little rough for me, I feel very mentally drained at the end…But what can ya do?!
The rest of the week was filled with little trips to cafes, baklava of course, gyros, and lots of homework! On Friday, two of my roommates and I went to Syntagma to do a little shopping then sat and had lunch at a nice little cafe in Psirri. I got some DELICIOUS bruschetta! Later on after some dinner and a little siesta we ventured out for the first time! We went to a local “rock bar.” They play awesome classic rock, the bartender was veryyyyy nice asking us all about how we enjoyed Greece, what we studied, our names, etc. Although it wasn’t a late night it was a fun one!
Saturday brought an early rising for the day trip to the island of Aegina. After metro and ferry we finally arrived around 1230 and went straight to the Temple of Aphaia. The site was beautiful and the temple was really cool but the wind on the hill was VERY cold! This was followed of course by lunch at a taverna! Then some wandering around until we could no longer bear the cold and just had to sit in a cafe with a warm drink! I’ve learned that I do indeed get a little sea sick, so medicine IS MY FRIEND! On our way back, it was early evening and again we had to take the ferry back and the metro.
Let me give a little background information about Greece. Here, it is perfectly normal and at least weekly occurance to see a demonstration. This is usually some political group or private group/organization that is disgruntled about something that Parliament has done. (There is much right now as Greece is an economic crisis) and they will march to Parliament, hold signs, maybe chant but that is usually the end of it. Eventually the area is cleared and all is well. There are on rare occasions however, opposing groups that will cause more than this. And this was what we ran into on our way back,
Now I was never in an danger, but boy for a good 2 minutes things were a little crazy! All I will say is the scheduled demonstrations went a little off course, and got a bit out of hand. Demonstrators trying to flea the police ran into the metro station just as we were switching lines (faces covered with scarves and gas masks mind you) and yelling. Now what do you do when masked young men are running and yelling at you in a foreign language as they proceed to close the metro station doors? As the Greeks did as well; we ran.
Why were their faces covered? to avoid the effects of tear gas which is a common method used by the police for clearing the crowd. looking back it was somewhat comical but it definitely woke us up from our tiring day and we had some well deserved treats when we got home!
But what I’ve noticed about Greece, everywhere I’ve gone is there is a sense of pride. So much so that Greeks go out of their way it seems to make sure I like it here and I too can find the pride in Greece. The economic crisis has had a huge effect, just as the U.S. has struggled. But the youth here are in unrest at the lack of jobs for them…I think unemployment is upward toward 30% (don’t quote me on that) But even as we spoke to our taxi driver, Mary, in Aegina and she told us how her University Degree in Economics wasn’t even enough to keep a job at the Port Authority. She shared with us that it was okay, her brother owned a taxi and she helped him with that; but she did not put down Greece. She was not beaten. Mary was still happy despite the hard times.
I’m really beginning to see some of the differences from American culture and know that I will continue to find a great appreciation for the Greek way.